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  • Writer's pictureDr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam

How to Check Diabetes (Blood Sugar) at Home

Diabetes is a condition that affects how your body uses glucose, a type of sugar that is your main source of energy. If you have diabetes, your blood sugar levels may be too high or too low, which can cause various health problems. Checking your blood sugar at home can help you monitor your condition and manage it better.


What You Need to Check Your Blood Sugar at Home

To check your blood sugar at home, you will need:

  • A glucose meter, a device that measures the amount of glucose in your blood using a small drop of blood.

  • Test strips, which are inserted into the meter and react with the blood sample.

  • A lancet, a small needle that pricks your finger to get the blood sample.

  • A lancing device, a tool that holds the lancet and makes the prick easier and less painful.

  • A logbook or an app, where you can record your test results and other information.

You can buy these items at a pharmacy or online. You may need a prescription from your doctor to get them covered by your insurance. You should also follow the instructions that come with your meter and test strips to use them correctly and safely.


How to Check Your Blood Sugar at Home

To check your blood sugar at home, follow these steps:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them well.

  2. Insert a new test strip into the meter and turn it on.

  3. Put a new lancet into the lancing device and set it to the right depth for your skin type.

  4. Choose a spot on the side of your fingertip to prick. Avoid the center of your fingertip, where there are more nerve endings and more pain.

  5. Press the lancing device firmly against your finger and press the button to release the lancet.

  6. Gently squeeze your finger to get a drop of blood. You may need to massage your finger from the base to the tip to help the blood flow.

  7. Touch the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood and let it fill the strip completely.

  8. Wait for the meter to display your result. It usually takes a few seconds.

  9. Dispose of the used lancet and test strip in a sharps container or a puncture-proof container with a lid.

  10. Write down your result in your logbook or app, along with the date, time, and any other relevant information, such as what you ate, how much you exercised, or how you felt.


How Often and When to Check Your Blood Sugar at Home

How often and when you should check your blood sugar at home depends on several factors, such as:

  • The type of diabetes you have (type 1 or type 2)

  • The treatment you are using (insulin, oral medications, diet, exercise, etc.)

  • The goals you have set with your doctor

  • The symptoms you experience

  • The changes in your lifestyle or health

In general, if you have type 1 diabetes, you may need to check your blood sugar at least four times a day: before meals, before bedtime, and sometimes before and after exercise or when you feel sick.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you may need to check your blood sugar less often, depending on how well-controlled your diabetes is and what medications you are taking. Some people may only need to check their blood sugar once or twice a day, while others may need to check it more frequently.

Your doctor will advise you on how often and when to check your blood sugar at home based on your individual needs and goals. You should also consult your doctor if you notice any unusual or persistent changes in your blood sugar levels or if you have any questions or concerns about testing.


What Your Blood Sugar Results Mean

Your blood sugar results tell you how much glucose is in your blood at a certain time. They can help you understand how different factors affect your blood sugar levels, such as food, exercise, stress, illness, medications, etc.

Your blood sugar results can also help you make adjustments to your diabetes management plan, such as changing your diet, medication doses, or activity levels.

Your doctor will help you set target ranges for your blood sugar levels based on your age, health condition, and other factors. These ranges may vary from person to person, but in general, they are:

  • Before meals: 80 to 130 mg/dL

  • Two hours after meals: less than 180 mg/dL

  • Before bedtime: 100 to 140 mg/dL

If your blood sugar results are within your target ranges most of the time, it means that your diabetes is well-controlled and that you are reducing your risk of complications.

If your blood sugar results are too high or too low, it means that your diabetes is not well-controlled and that you may need to make some changes to your treatment plan.

High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, occurs when your blood sugar level is above your target range. It can be caused by eating too much, taking too little insulin or medication, being sick or stressed, or having an infection. Symptoms of high blood sugar include:

  • Increased thirst and urination

  • Dry mouth and skin

  • Blurred vision

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea and vomiting

If your blood sugar is slightly high, you may be able to lower it by drinking water, exercising, or taking extra insulin or medication as directed by your doctor. If your blood sugar is very high or stays high for a long time, you may need to seek medical attention, as it can lead to serious complications, such as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS).

Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, occurs when your blood sugar level is below your target range. It can be caused by taking too much insulin or medication, skipping or delaying meals, exercising more than usual, or drinking alcohol. Symptoms of low blood sugar include:

  • Shaking and sweating

  • Hunger and nausea

  • Dizziness and confusion

  • Weakness and fatigue

  • Irritability and mood swings

  • Headache and blurred vision

If your blood sugar is slightly low, you may be able to raise it by eating or drinking something that contains fast-acting carbohydrates, such as glucose tablets, juice, candy, or soda. If your blood sugar is very low or does not improve after eating or drinking something, you may need to seek medical attention, as it can lead to serious complications, such as seizures or coma.

How to Check Diabetes at Home: Summary

Checking your blood sugar at home is an important part of managing your diabetes. It can help you monitor your condition, make adjustments to your treatment plan, and prevent complications.

To check your blood sugar at home, you will need a glucose meter, test strips, a lancet, a lancing device, and a logbook or an app. You should follow the steps to perform the test correctly and safely.

You should check your blood sugar at home as often and as when as your doctor advises you based on your individual needs and goals. You should also know what your target ranges are and what your results mean.

If your blood sugar results are within your target ranges most of the time, it means that your diabetes is well-controlled. If your blood sugar results are too high or too low, it means that your diabetes is not well-controlled and that you may need to make some changes to your treatment plan.


Remember to always consult your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about testing your blood sugar at home or if you notice any unusual or persistent changes in your blood sugar levels.

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